Wrongful death is a death of a human being as the result of a wrongful act. Such wrongful acts include: negligence (like careless driving), an intentional attack such as assault and/or battery, or a death that happens during the commission of a crime.

Wrongful death is the basis for a claim against the party or parties who caused the death. Family members, both children and adults, may be entitled to compensation for the personal loss of the decedent, as well as the amount of financial support they would have received had the person lived. A lawsuit for wrongful death can be made by the executor or administrator of the estate of the deceased or by individual family members.

This area of the law is governed by statute. Wrongful death statutes vary from state to state, but in general they define who may sue for wrongful death and what, if any, limits may be applied to an award of damages. A wrongful death action is separate and apart from criminal charges, and neither proceeding affects nor controls the other.